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tv   The Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  August 17, 2009 4:00pm-7:00pm EDT

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raised a security flag, kahn. says he kind of gets its now but there were questions as to whether or not he was doing this because he's got a movie coming up on profiling around the corner. hmm. wink, wink. here's wolf blitzer with "the situation room," by golly. health care reform. the so-called public option. now supporters are growing more vocal as the obama administration hints it could be dropped in favor of a cooperati cooperative. what each would mean. and as violence ramps up against gay men in iraq, there's a disturbing new report out detailing an organized campaign of torture and murder that's left hundreds dead. plus, anger boiling over in india right now at the way one of the country's biggest stars was treated by u.s. immigration officials we're learning new details right now of the incident that's grown to a real
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international controversy. i'm wolf blitzer in cnn's commander for breaking news, politics, and extraordinary reports from around the world. you're in "the situation room." he's been focusing like a laser beam on health care reform, but for a brief time today, president obama put america's servicemen and women front and center speaking at the convention in phoenix and vowing more money and help for vets struggling to deal with life after combat. let's go to our senior white house correspondent, ed henry. what was the president's basic message to the vets? >> reporter: urging more patience in afghanistan, a war that has been going almost eight years, the president telling me that the fighting is fierce, that the u.s. will not defeat the tlaliban overnight. out here on the streets of the
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convention center, some of the groups that used to stalk president bush about the war in iraq are beating up on president obama, claiming he's escalated the war. interesting, as well, mr. obama defended his strategy by taking a page out of the bush playbook, and that's not sitting well with all veterans here. some say they want more details from this president about his strategy. >> this is not a war of choice. this is a war of necessity. those who attacked america on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. if left unchecked, the taliban insurgency are will mean an even larger safe haven from which al kooid would plot to kill more americans. >> i hope he's not sugarcoating things and saying what he thinks we need to hear because, as an organization, if we don't want to hear it, we want to see it.
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and if he believes that and does what he says, i'll be very happy with it. >> reporter: other vets said they understand why the president is not giving more details. his commander general on the ground right now is doing a comprehensive strategy review, and that's why they're not putting out more details. even some mccain voters saying, look, we respect the commander in chief and we're going to give him more time to get the strategy right. the other things the veterans like is that the president vowed his health care reform effort with will not impact veteran health care at all, obviously a major issue for the vfw, wolf. >> certainly is. the other issue the president is facing right now, a huge domestic issue, health care reform. i take it there were demonstrators in phoenix where you are, what, pro and against what the president has in mind? >> reporter: absolutely. it was fascinating. as the president was talking about national security inside the convention center -- this is a couple hundred feet from me here on the streets of downtown phoenix -- this raging debate over health care reform was playing out.
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700 or more pro obama demonstrators saying we want health reform now, holding signs, shouting. there were a little bit less protesters, anti-obama protester, calling it socialism and the like. we've seen that play out across the country. what i saw that was interesting today, and there was more energy on the obama side than any other obama event, far more people, a lot more shouting. you could see the labor unions and the democratic national committee were rallying these people, getting much more involved across the country. we went out and talked to some of these people. even as the obama administration back in washington is signaling, look, maybe this public option will no longer be a central part of this, that they may be getting rid of that, people we talked to in the crowd who were pro obama said, look, we'll be disappointed with if that happens but it won't be the end of it. we still want reform. that's what the white house is hoping, that there will be a feeling out there, that, look, maybe a half a loaf, three-quarters of a loaf is better than nothing at all. that's certainly the message that the administration wants to get out there. >> and they're getting it out.
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thanks very much. ed henry traveling with the president. the president's health secretary, kathleen sebelius, was also indicating the public option, as it's called, may not necessarily make it into the final bill. listen closely to what she told cnn's john king on "state of the union" yesterday morning, a program that makes news every sunday morning starting at 9:00 a.m. eastern. >> some in this town, especially more liberal democrats, say that is critical, they will not support health care without a public option. they take that as message from the president, the votes aren't there, it's time to come up with a plan b. >> i think, john, that the president is absolutely right. this piece of the puzzle has had enormous focus, and the president continues to believe that it's good to have consumer choice, let people choose an option in the new marketplace, and it's good to have competition for the private insurers who will inherit a lot
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of new customers and without competition, costs could skyrocket in a monopoly system. it's not a great way to hold down costs. so, he continues to be very supportive of some options for consumers. what we don't know is exactly what the senate finance committee is likely to come up with. they've been more focused on a co- co-op, not-for-profit co-op as a competitor as opposed to a straight government-run program, and i think what's important is choice and competition. and i'm convinced at the end of the day the plan will have both of those. but that is not the sessential element. >> the public option, she's saying, not the essential element. we're hearing a lot more about these proposed health care co-ops instead of that public option. let's bring in our senior medical correspondent elizabeth cohen to explain precisely. elizabeth, what do these co-ops mean? >> reporter: okay, wolf. the way it stands now is most people either get their
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insurance through the government, a medicare or medicaid situation, or through a private company, a united or cigna, one of those. a co-op is completely different. it's a nonprofit organization where patients actually elect the governing board. so, you sort of think of it as something that patients run. and also, tens of thousands of members at least are needed in order to make a co-op work. again, it's nonprofit. any money that it makes goes right back into the co-op. some people say you need hundreds of thousands of members to make it work. wolf? >> is there evidence, though, if you create these co-ops around the country, it's going to bring in some of those 46 million uninsured people live manager the united states? >> reporter: you know what, wolf, to get an answer to that, what i did was i asked two people who were involved with two health care co-ops out there. there aren't many, but there are two prominent ones, one in seattle, one in minneapolis. i said would having co-ops around the country take care of
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the 46 million uninsured? they said no. i was surprised. they said it costs money to join a co-op. one said our premiums are about the same as anybody else's premiums and we do reject people sometimes because they have pre-existing conditions. so, these folks said no, they didn't think it was going to necessarily help those 46 million who don't have insurance. >> we're going to be hearing a lot more about these co-ops in the coming weeks, no doubt about that. thanks very much for that, elizabeth. to keep track of all the town halls, the health care debates and learn what reform efforts might mean for you, go to our new health care in america website to check out the facts, the statistics, read the blogs, all at let's go to jack cafferty with "the cafferty file." jack? >> happy monday, wolf. the city of chicago is mostly closed for business today as a way to save money. most city employees are off without pay. emergency services, police, fire department, they're not affected. but city hall, public libraries,
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garbage pickup, health clinics, most other city services and offices closed. chicago's facing an estimated budget shortfall of about $250 million to $300 million for this year. so, as part of the effort to close that gap, the city included three reduced service days. the other two are the friday after thanksgiving and christmas eve. the city anticipates these reduced service days will save more than $8 million, but city workers are losing more than just the pay for these three days. they have also been asked to take six furlough days and six unpaid holidays this year. mayor robert daly says every dollar the city saves from these measures, quote, helps to save jobs and in the long term maintain services for chicagoans, unquote. he thanked city employees for making the sacrifice and being part of the solution to the budget problem. the employees were not given any choice. but some city workers say they don't mind taking the unpaid days if p it means holding on to
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their jobs in the long run. so, here's the question. go to, post a comment on my blog. interesting. >> an intriguing question. anxious to hear what our viewers think about that, especially those that work for government. >> they probably won't be as much in favor. >> no, they probably won't. all right, jack. thanks very much. hurricane bill is churning in the atlantic right now, expected to grow in strength. our severe weather expert, our meteorologist chad myers is tracking the storm in our hurricane headquarters. we're going to get the latest forecast for you. also, a wildfire burning tens of thousands of acres in california. now officials are blaming, get this, a mexican drug cartel. plus, targeted for torture and murder. there's a disturbing new report that's coming out detailing the growing threat faced by gay men in iraq. every head. every bite. every gallon. every shoe.
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dry conditions and strong winds have wreaked havoc on firefighters battling wires out in california. tens of thousands of acres have been charred by flames across the state. one week-long blaze is burning in southern california santa barbara county. cnn's ted rowlands is there and joins us live. that fire was touched off by a most unusual source. >> reporter: yeah, wolf. really, the state is very vulnerable, as you mentioned.
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the dry conditions and winds. anything could really start a fire. but this fire that is happening in the los padres national forest is now being blamed, believe it or not, on mexican drug dealers. the 87,000-acre wildfire burning in the loos padres national forest started, authorities say, by a mexican marijuana grower's cooking fire. investigators found pot plants near the fire's origin and evidence they say it was an operation run by a mexican national drug organization. authorities believe the pot growers are still in the forest, most likely armed, trying to find their way out without getting caught. growing marijuana in national forests in california is nothing new. of the 5.2 million pot plants seized last year, 70% were on public land. the dense canopy of trees in the national forest affords growers a perfect hiding spot from air patrols. this summer, cnn's randi kaye went along with authorities on a
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raid of one of these operations in the same forest where the fire is now burning. they found more than 7,000 plants. >> we believe it's the cartels from mexico. we find the seeds. we find sometimes books. we've made arrests in some of the groves. >> reporter: now, this is the first time, wolf, that one of these fires has started from these mexican pot growers, and the reason is, authorities say, is typically these guys hate fire. they don't want to use fire so, they use propane gas stoves to survive for cooking. they don't want to build fires, because, of course, smoke is a dead giveaway. so, hopefully this isn't a trend, that a unique group started this fire. >> let's hope it's not a trend. you're also hearing about another fire, ted, started in a rather unusual way itself. >> reporter: yeah. the bottom line here is this state is so vulnerable because of the conditions, one of the fires was lightning strikes but
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another was started bay bird that went into a power line. you think, how did that happen? i see birds standing on power lines all the time. apparently, larger birds hit the high-voltage power lines. one wing touches one power line and the other touches another and they become a current between the two. they combust, they drop to the ground, they're so hot they catch on fire. that's one of the fires they're battling in northern yuba county started by a bird. >> a huge problem in california right now. good luck to the folks dealing with it. we're tracking tropical weather threats including hurricane bill out of the atlantic right now. let's go to our severe weather expert, our meteorologist chad myers. he's tracking the storms for us. there are several storms out there including bill. we have weather from ana and bill, claudette making rain. ana could be something if it makes its way boo into the gulf of mexico.
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i don't know if that's going to happen. if it does, it could be a 35-mile-per-hour storm. could be bigger. i'm not seeing it. the concern is bill. bill is a very large hurricane out in the atlantic forecast to be a category 3 or even higher, and is also forecast to make a big right-hand turn. wolf, we always worry about whether it makes the turn or not. is it going to do it? will we see it? will we see the turn that is so forecast by all of these computer models? i'll play it for you. right on up past bermuda and on out into the atlantic, north atlantic ocean, and that would be fantastic. we call it a big fish storm, missing bermuda, missing everything else. don't know if that will be the kals as it makes its way along into the north of what i believe would be a ridge of high pressure to the south and to the south, another one to the north. we always talk about these computer models. i have these computer models up all the time. here are the computers. here are the lines. here are the lines. i want to show you where they come from. this is actually a florida state
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computer program. you can go on site, fsu, florida state, and you'll be able to see what the computer is thinking when it comes to the hurricane model. is it going to be small? is it going to be bigger? and there's the united states right here. there's the storm turning away, trying to turn away, and it is a very large storm at 131 knots. that's the forecast computer model. is it right? sometimes. is it wrong? sure. absolutely. that's why computer forecasts are not always perfect. computers aren't even big enough for them to be perfect. we will watch bill. if this makes a run at the carolina coast, the northeast, even to new york city, this would be a major, major event. right now that's not the forecast, but we'll see. >> we're standing by for a new forecast momentarily. we'll check back with you at the top of the hour. that's when it's coming in. thanks, chad. hundreds of people still await evacuation on thailand thai want a week after the island took a huge pounding from a typhoon. the weather is improving now,
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and humanitarian efforts are picking up. our senior international correspondent, john voss, has gotten a ground-level look at the aftermath. >> reporter: this is the main road of a town, more of a muddy river. and the people who live here are now trying to dig themselves out and clean up. now, keep in mind, it's been more than a week since typhoon morakot. the resident who is live here say at its worst the mud was about five feet deep. it inundated all of these shops and restaurants and office buildings. they say during the typhoon a nearby dike was breached and the floodwaters rushed in, happened in about 20 or 30 minutes. take a look at some of these piles of debris coming from inside these buildings. there's furniture here. there is the kitchen sink. even just here there is a child's rocking horse. the army has come here to help with the cleanup. there are hundreds of volunteers, as well. and across taiwan, cleanups like this are now under way in many
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parts. but in some places, in particular, those mountainous isolated villages, the cleanup will have to wait because work crews simply can't get in. now, despite all of this devastation, all of this damage, the people who live here tell me they consider themselves lucky because no one died. john voss, cnn, taiwan. it's a magazine generations of americans have enjoyed and used to stay informed. now it future may be in doubt as "reader's digest" falling on some pretty hard times. plus, a deadly blast at a power plant. the latest toll.
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t.j. holmes is monitoring some other important stories incoming to "the situation room" right now. t.j., what's going on? >> reporter: hey there, wolf. a first here. russian officials say at least ten people are dead, dozens more missing after an explosion at the country's largest hydroelectric plant. investigators say a transformer exploded during repair work at the plant in southern siberia. the blast caused a water pipe to burst, flooding the engine room and destroying walls and ceilings. the accident caused a major power disruption. still no winner in italy's huge state lottery. the top prize has ballooned to about $197 million after no winning ticket was drawn last night. going to be drawing another one, possibly who knows when, but the giant jackpot set off lotto fever all over europe. 2,000 people collectively invested $116,000 for tickets. this week's prize was the highest jackpot ever in europe. the "reader's digest" is
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filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy. the publisher of the country's most popular general interest magazine blamed dwindling circulation, large debts and an industry-wide advertising slump. it was founded in 1922 as a a condensement of other articles. finally here, the national park service says visits to national parks are up almost 4% this year over last year. about 4.5 million more people visited the parks in the first half of this year. officials credit free weekends as part of that increase. and maybe a presidential bump. the president and his family were among visitors just this past weekend. they went to yellowstone and grand canyon national park during a four-day trip out west. but as we know it wasn't all pleasure for the president. he had a lot of work to do on health care reform. >> when you're president, that's always the case, t.j. >> reporter: always. debate over health care reform is running over the public option.
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the question could pit the white house against some liberal congressional democrats. we're going to hash it out with one of them, congressman anthony weeder of new york. and he danced out of congress and onto the stage. the former congressional leader tom delay, get ready. he's getting ready to dance with the stars.
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it's make-or-break month for health care reform, and now there are hints from president obama and his administration that they might, repeat, might be willing to drop a so-called public option, and those hints are drawing fire from some fellow democrats, especially the liberals. our senior congressional correspondent, dana bash, is working this story for us. dana, lots of sensitivity on this matter. what are you hearing? >> particularly among the so-called progressives. in fact, we told the democratic sources a caucus, a big and powerful block of lib kral democrats in the house, are working on expressing a letter of displeasure. barbara lee said recent comments by the obama administration officials regarding the public option and health reform are deeply troubling. any bill without a public health insurance plan like medicare not
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health reform. i spoke to the congresswoman a short while ago and she said she was a little bit of a sense of what's going on behind the scenes. she was kate waiting for a call back from the secretary of hhs, kathleen sebelius, about what she said on cnn's "state of the union" for clarification because from her perspective, there is no health care reform without a public insurance option. >> nancy pelosi says she's fully behind that so-called public option. >> and the big issue is that the next step is house vote in september when they come back. >> the full house. >> which has not happened yet. so, she had to, because of the white house statements, reaffirm her commitment to a public option, which is now the plan for that particular vote. here's what she said. there is strong support in the house for a public option. a public option is the best option to lower costs, improve the quality of health care, ensure choice and expand coverage. the problem she has, and that means the problem for the white house, wolf, is that i talked to
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several democratic leadership sources. they said this block of progressives is so big they don't think they can pass a bill in the house without that public option, they think it's so essential. >> what's the explanation why in the past few days we've heard these hints from the president on down, from the administration, that in the end there might not be a public option? >> invest the pickle that the administration is in when it comes to congressional democrats. a bill without a public option is going to be very enough the house, but it's going to be even tougher when it comes to the senate where they have those conservative democrats, not just republicans, but conservative democrats. i spoke to several sources including an administration source today, who said that they wanted to use this time, strike at this time, to send a signal because it is so sent tif and tenuous that the president is, quote, willing to be reasonable. that is a quote from an administration official. >> dana bash, thanks very much. let's talk a little bit about this with democratic congressman anthony wiener of new york. he's one of those progressives, or liberals that is apparently concerned that the so-called
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public option might not make it when the dust settles. are you concerned, congressman? >> yeah. i mean, look, i would love to be one of the big supporters of the obama plan, but i've got to know that it includes a public option. i, frankly, believe that we should have a single-payer plan like medicare for all americans, but at the very least we need something that the government offers to compete with insurance plans. now, i know that that's important to the president, or at least i thought it was, because he said it repeatedly over the course of the last several weeks, which is why this walking away from the public option seems to me a sure fire way to walking away from passing something in the house as dana just reported. >> here's what he said at that town hall saturday night in colorado. listen closely. >> the public oopgption, whethee have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform. this is just one sliver of it, one aspect of it. >> he made it sound like it's just a marginal, tiny little thing. he said one sliver, and he put
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his two fingers together to suggest, you know what, it's not that big of a deal, at least that's the way i read what he was saying. you must have been pretty concerned when you heard that. >> well, at least he said it was part of the plan. now i'm not even sure that it's going to be. look, let's be very clear about this, that if we don't have a public plan and we're leaving it up to the insurance companies to somehow get up one morning and say, okay, i want to make less profit, i want to have less overhead, bring down costs on our own, that's not going to happen. and at the very foundation of all of this discussion is that we need to curb down the health care costs that are plaguing not only people that have insurance but all of us who pay taxes who are paying too much to cover the uninsured. >> the final language that emerges from a house senate conference committee because they're going you have to reconcile, they say, the difference, and there is no public option, will you vote against it? >> you know, i don't even think i'll have to because they won't even bring that to the floor. in the house of representatives, without a strong public plan, even stronger than the one we
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reported out of committee, i think it would have a very difficult time getting 218 votes. the president has to lean on this and say clearly a public option is important, that we hold these insurance companies accountable and provide some competition. i would love to be the one carrying the ball for him, but unless he says a public option is the way to go, i'm going to be a no and so will a lot of people. >> because the former president of the united states, bill clinton, he says, you know what, don't make everything perfect because you're not going to get perfection. you've got to get what you can get. listen to what bill clinton said. >> i want us to be mindful that sometimes we may have to take less than a full load. we can't be in the peanut gallery. we have to be actors. we can't ask the president to do it alone. we can't ask the congress to do it alone. >> because there's a lot of concern that the public option simply doesn't have the votes in the united states senate, what bill clinton is suggesting, paul
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begala, among others, you know what, maybe that can happen down the road but accept what you can get right now. that's better than nothing. but you don't believe that. >> well, perhaps it is. look, i have said all along that i think the best place is a single-payer plan like medicare for all americans. we're going to have a chance to vote on that. i think that's the best thing. i'm prepared to say all right, we'll try this idea of competition with a public plan, but once you take away the public plan, i don't think we'll be achieving anything more than we did with medicare part d where we give the insurance industry hundreds of billions of dollars and hope for the best. i simply don't think it would work. if it doesn't reduce costs, what are we doing here? >> anthony wiener, congressman from new york. congressman, thanks very much for coming in. >> thank you. horrific torture, organized death squads and more, all details in a disturbing new report on the violence faced by gay men in iraq. we have the details. also, some very unstarlike treatment for a bollywood celebrity. details of his run-in with u.s. airport immigration officials is
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causing a huge international stir.
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as the worst horrors of the iraq war seem to be winding down, a new nightmare is unfolding for one segment of the population. that would be gay men. they are being targeted, tortured and killed in growing numbers. cnn's arwa damon is in baghdad. >> reporter: when this video sprung up on youtube back in january showing iraqi gay men partying, it caused a terrifying
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backlash. in this report released on monday, human rights watch worn warns of a, quote, spreading campaign of torture and murder against iraq's gay community. "they always used to hunt us, but after this video posted it became much worse," this gay man tells us. he and his three friends, brave enough to speak out but too frightened to have their identities revealed. what are some of the atrocities that are being committed against the gay community that you know of? "many of my friends were killed, and many others wounded or harmed," the eldest among them says. "some were tortured. they shot glue up their anus. they have started a war against us." "i was with my boyfriend driving around. i had my head on his shoulder," this man remembers. "security forces stopped us and ordered us out of the car.
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they beat my boyfriend severely and put him in jail. he's been there four months." this lists names of individuals accused of being gay. part of it warns -- some gay iraqis have even been killed by their own families. ashamed of the stigma surrounding homosexuality. this shows a transsexual being harassed by iraqi police. "he was a hairdresser," his friend tells us. "he was killed by his family after the iraqi police threatened to kill him. i heard that they even wanted to burn him alive or stone him to death." these young men tell us how they were captured by militias who hacked off their hair. one shows the scars left by acid on his leg. the other displays a slash on his wrist. members of iraq's gay community have to try to blend in when
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they are out on the streets or face the consequences. the iraqi government says it condemns the murder or abuse of any of its citizens, but it's done little else to protect the country's homosexuals. some folks say they are left to fend for themselves. according to human rights watch, it is difficult to place an exact number on homosexuals killed. indications are that the number is in the hundreds. homosexuality is not actually illegal in iraq, but there are few, if the any, laws that protect homosexuals. in fact, write quite to the contrary. according to the human rights watch report, iraq's criminal code gives police and prosecutors broad scope to punish people whose behavior, mannerisms or looks they, quite simply, just don't like. wolf? >> arwa damon, thank you. important story. veterans who have served in iraq and elsewhere won't see any changes in benefits under health care reforms being considered in washington. that word today from veterans affairs secretary eric shinseki,
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who spoke at a philadelphia town hall meeting hosted by senator arlen specter. he says the department is getting a 15% increase in its 2010 budget and he promised to modernize the va for the 21st century. cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr has a look now at a program for troubled vets trying to find their way back after coming home. >> reporter: wolf, we're here at a homeless camp that has sprung up under one of l.a.'s busy freeways. this city has the largest population of homeless veterans in the country, about 15,000, many from the vietnam war but now the first young troubled vets from iraq and afghanistan are beginning to appear. you know, it kind of helps me forget about anything, helps me stay calm. >> reporter: a calm far from
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sergio's combat duty in iraq. he served as a marine in the 2003 invasion. >> we have apricots here. >> reporter: sergio, now 28, says he came home from war with posttraumatic stress. he wound up in jail for possession of drug, and when he was released, he had nowhere to go. sergio came here, to new directions, a recovery center for addicted and homeless veterans. and he found john, a scottish-born vietnam veteran who started the program after he served nine years in prison on a stabbing conviction. >> he's going to get the honest truth from me. >> reporter: blunt talk from john, still with a metal plate in his head from being shot in vietnam, mentors this young iraq vet 32 years later. >> he has to make a choice what he wants to do, but he's got all the potential in the world, he really does. >> i look up to john, you know, because, you know, he tells me
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that i shouldn't be ashamed of having ptsd. i shouldn't be ashamed to have problems. >> reporter: sergio suddenly finds another mentor, 60-year-old michael anderson, a fellow marine who served during vietnam. michael started writing poetry while he was in jail. >> as the bell tolls, i offer a salute to our fighting men in uniform, brave and resolute. >> reporter: the vets decided to collaborate. >> i already have a picture in my mind of what i want to paint for that poem. >> reporter: while this iraq and this vietnam vet are separated by generations, they are now joined by their art and their battle against the demons of homelessness, addiction, and combat duty. new directions says they're finding today's troubled young vets like sergio often already in prison, so they're trying to get them help as fast as they can so they don't wind up here. wolf? >> barbara starr in l.a. for us.
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thank you. what a story that is. he lost his grandmother in the past year. now president obama is invoking the loss to make his case for health care reform. we're going to get the latest on what's going on. he's getting personal on what he wants. plus, john u. and the berkeley campus. his presence there sparking controversy.
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let's get back to health care reform, the president of the united states invoking the death of his own grandmother to counter the so-called death panel critiques. let's talk about that and more. joining us, democratic strategist and cnn political contributor donna brazile and republican strategist john feehery, president of the feehery group in washington. i'll play a clip of what the president said over the weekend when he was hammering the insurance companies. you could see it was a personal mat we are him, as well. >> i just lost my grandmother last year. i know what it's like to watch somebody you love who's aging deteriorate and have to struggle
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with that. so, the notion that somehow i ran for public office or members of congress are in this so that they can go around pulling the plug on grandma? >> is that an effective response to sarah palin and other critics? >> i don't know. i think there's a lot of rhetoric, too much rhetoric. what the president needs to do is sit down and start cutting deals and getting progress on this thing. i think how he does is it is work with the republicans. he's going to drop the public option -- >> do you think republicans then will support his vision? >> i think a lot of them will, chuck grassley, for example, and get a much better package that won't scare the bejesus out of people. >> do you think so? >> i hope we don't drop the public option. >> you see the handwriting on wall. >> no, i do not. >> do you think they could pass legislation in the senate with the public option? >> i trust the senate leaders who believe that they don't have the votes. but i also believe that in the
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house they have the vote, 68 democrats have signed the letter saying they will not support a bill without the public option. there are many senators, including jay rockefeller, who support a public option. so, i'm not ready to put the nail in the coffin on the public option. i think it's the only way to lower the costs. >> are you ready to put the nail in it? >> it's done. if the president wants a deal and something to pass both chambers, he has to. they understand that, which is why they're walking themselves ace way from the public option. >> how do you lower costs without a public option? how do you give people more choice and more quality without a public option? i think the republicans, before they go around cheerleading, killing this, this part of the bill, they should probably come up with another option. >> what about government-funded, at least in the beginning, seed money co-operatives around the country? >> i'm intrigued by that idea. i think the senator has done a great deal of work on that, but
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i haven't seen the details so i can't endorse it yet. >> with will the republicans endorse some of these co-ops? i think some will, support a system that cuts down costs without a huge government takeover that will lead people getting on to a government health care which i don't think the american support. >> nobody is talking about a huge government takeover, john. >> sure they are. >> they're trying to get the facts out. get the facts out before the lies out. >> people are talking about it but you may not agree they are. some people are. the critics. let me make -- play a little clip when i listened to the president's speech before the veterans of foreign wars out in phoenix today. this line intrigued me. listen to this. >> that's why i've made this pledge to our armed forces. i will only send you into harm's way when it is absolutely necessary, and when i do, it will be based on good intelligence and guided by a sound strategy. i will give you a clear mission, defined goals, and the equipment and support you need to get the
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job done. >> did that sound to you like impolice sit criticism of the bush administration's strategy in iraq? >> i don't look at it that way. i think every president basically makes that hope and that promise that they'll have a clear strategy, overwhelming force, and then sometimes, especially when you go into afghanistan, the facts get in the way and the situation on the ground changes. i think that's the problem that the president's got here, which is what's the end strategy in afghanistan, what are the goals you want to get out of there, and can you have -- so many empires have died in afghanistan. you have to be very careful with the troops you commit. and the political support back home, that's the biggest part for the president. how much political support -- >> i heard him talk about, you know, i promise -- when he promised i will only do, this only send troops into harm's way based on good intelligence sounded like an implicit reference to bad intelligence of iraq. >> they're reassessing their
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policy in afghanistan, and the august 20th election is critically important in stabilizing that country. we have to stabilize afghanistan, help them rebuild and get rid of the taliban and al qaeda. >> thanks for coming in. he'll kept a relatively low profile since leaving congress. now tom delay is coming back in a big and surprising way on prime time tv. get ready to dance. and we're standing by for a new forecast on hurricane bill. we'll get the latest from our hurricane headquarters coming up. so what do you think? i think i'll go with the basic package. good choice. only meineke lets you choose the brake service that's right for you. and save 50% on pads and shoes. meineke.
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kay bailey hutchison is making it official, running for governor as texas, challenging rick perry. she says she'll give up her senate seat this year to focus on the governor's race. and get this -- tom delay certainly wasn't known for stepping lightly when he was a house republican leader, but we'll soon be seeing a very different side of him. delay is among those on the new season of "dancing with the stars." he left congress in 2006 after being indicted for campaign finance law. the case is still pending. he tells "usa today" he's been working out like crazy, getting ready to compete. remember, for the latest political news anytime check out they used to call, jack cafferty, they used to call tom delay the hammer. maybe he'll do the hammer when he's "dancing with the stars." >> isn't it interesting that in our society somebody who is
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indicted for violating campaign finance law is now a celebrity? he ought to be running for, like, prom queen in san quentin or someplace. >> he hasn't been convicted yet. >> oh. got a quick correction on this story out of chicago where most of the offices are closed today as a way to save money. the mayor's name in chicago is richard daly, not robert daly, as we earlier said, and i knew that. i just wasn't pay ing attention. so, my apologies to his honor the major of chicago. the question this hour, should government employees be forced to take time off without pay as a way of saving money? derek in california --
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believe it or not, many will feel grateful they can do their part for this very challenging economy. bobby says -- the government has way too many employees. there are too many who sit around not doing much of anything. and bob in south carolina.
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better than they could do without parole officers doing the business of keeping our society running. bob, i expect you're probably right about that. if you department see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog at look for yours there among hundreds of others. what do you think, wolf, want to donate some time off without pay? >> bob's got a good point. some of those jobs are critical. you and me, jack, maybe not. >> i'm sure they could get along just fine. >> all right, jack. thanks very much. to our viewers, you're in "the situation room." happening now -- difficult days ahead in afghanistan. president obama gives a sober assessment to the veterans of foreign wars. he's shadowed by some anti-war protesters. the student who challenged the president to a health care throwdown. i'll speak with the college student who made waves and actually got the president to make some headlines. and underneath the waves off the coast of israel, could there really be a mermaid? we're on the scene for you. i'm wolf blitzer.
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you're in "the situation room." this just coming into the "the situation room." while the recommend news channels of a tropical storm soaked the south, a major hurricane may be brewing out in the atlantic right now. the latest forecast has just come in, and we want to go right to our severe weather expert, our meteorologist chad myers. he's at the cnn hurricane headquarters in atlanta. what does that forecast, chad, say? >> it says that the storm may miss bermuda, but on the way toward the u.s. a little bit closer to the u.s. before it turns, exactly what we talked about at 4:00. as you mentioned, ana is no more. we won't have to worry about that. it is now just a tropical wave. it is just a little bit of a low. no name anymore. here's hurricane bill. 90 miles per hour, gusting to 115. so, how did the forecast change just in the past few minutes? the 5:00 advisory still has the storm at the same intensity, but instead of hitting very close to
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bermu bermuda, it has moved the path a little bit farther to the west, closer to the u.s., splitting the difference between the u.s. and north carolina but not missing bermuda still by much. i'm going to take you to the computer models because i think we want to see these here. this is from one of our websites that we use all the time called you can go online to see this, as well. what happened all day long, bill was coming up and moving very close to bermuda. and all of the models were on one side or the other. now, wolf, all of the models are on the west side of bermuda, saying that as the storm gets closer, as the computers get more refined, we will see that we think everything is a little bit more accurate, so the accuracy has shifted to the left and if that's the case, that left could still take us possibly all the way up even into the new york or new england area. that's not out of the question because that turn still has to happen. remember, it's still driving itself that way. we're waiting for this turn.
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sometimes those turns are slow. >> yeah, slow and the water is pretty warm. is that right? suggesting it still could build up speed. >> this is the warmest the water is going to get. i know it's august. seems late, like a late start, but this is as warm as it's going to be. these are the biggest storms of the year. >> chad, thanks very much for that. we'll stay in close touch with you. president obama took time out from his health care battle today to meet with america's war veterans. he pledged to boost spending for vets but also vowed to veto a defense bill if it's loaded with what he called a bunch of pork. and it was this president's turn to be shadowed by some anti-war protesters out in phoenix, as he promised to stay the course in afghanistan. our senior white house correspondent, ed henry, as the story from phoenix. >> reporter: wolf, the president did not start the war in afghanistan, but today he took another big step toward owning it. president obama urged more patience for the war in afghanistan, which is which has now been going on for nearly
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eight years. >> there will be more difficult days ahead. the insurgency in afghanistan didn't just happen overnight, and we won't defeat it overnight. this will not be quick, nor easy. >> reporter: outside the phoenix convention center, liberal groups that used to stalk then president bush over iraq are now hammering mr. obama for escalating the war in afghanistan with over 21,000 more troops. >> yes, we can, get out of afghanistan. >> reporter: interestingly, mr. obama defends that escalation with a line that echos the bush playbook. >> this is not a war of choice. this is a war of necessity. those who attacked america on 9/11 are plotting to do so again. >> reporter: that language came even as the president pledged a clean break from the bush administration's use of the military. >>ly only send you into harm's way when it is absolutely necessary. aend when i do, it will be based on good intelligence and guided
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bay sound strategy. i will give you a clear mission. >> reporter: but several vets here expressied concern the president is not decline death fining a clear mission in afghanistan himself, and some are still expressing skepticism after the speech. >> i hope he's not sugarcoating things and saying what he thinks we need to hear. because as an organization, if we don't want to hear it, we want to see it, and if he believes that and does what he says he's going to do, then i'm very happy -- i'm very happy with that. >> reporter: other vets told us they like what the president had to say on afghanistan, even some mccain voters saying that respect the commander in chief and will give him more time to get the strategy right. the president is going to need that patience. 152 u.s. troops have been killed in afghanistan since the start of the year, bringing the total to nearly 800 since the start of the war. wolf? >> already, ed. thanks very much.
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ed is traveling with the president in phoenix. senator jim webb's mission to myanmar paid off this weekend when the virginia democrat gained freedom for an american who'd been sentenced to seven years in prison many the country formally known as burma. john yettaw was seized after breaking into the house of detained activist aung san suu kyi. webb spoke to cnn after the two men arrived in thailand. >> i have not seen him since we got off the plane. he has a delicate medical condition. i'd like to emphasize i didn't go specifically to obtain his release. this was a part of a series of issues that we raised with the people in the government there. and i really regret what mr. yettaw did. i think that he may have been well intentioned, but he hurt a lot of people, including the very woman he was thinking he was going to help. >> the white house statement.
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let's go to jack cafferty right now. he's got "the cafferty file." jack? as you've been reporting, there are growing signs now that president obama may be willing to drop one of the key parts of his health care reform plan. if it happens, chalk up a big victory for both the republicans and the insurance companies. after weeks of criticism against a proposed government-run insurance plan and the increasingly rowdy town hall meetings, president obama now says the public option for coverage is, quote, just a sliver of the overall proposal. but politically speaking it is a big and potentially painful sliver. his health and human services secretary secretary kathleen sebelius has gone further. she says a direct government role in the reform health care system is, quote, not the essential element. sebelius says that what's important is choice and competition.
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one option that could replace the idea of government-run health care is nonprofit health cooperatives that would compete with the private sector. if the president decides to drop the public option, it has the potential to do both good and bad as far as he's concerned in the ongoing debate. mr. obama would take away some of the steam from the republicans' cries of a government takeover of health care. it also would leave some room potentially for compromise and getting some republicans on board. but the president risks alienating the liberals in his party, already has, actually. some top democrats like former party chairman howard dean is r saying that any health care reform plan must include the public option. one democratic congressman insists leaving private insurance companies in charge of controlling health care costs is, quote, like making a pyromaniac the fire chief, unquote. so, here's the question. post a comment on my blog.
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wolf? >> means he doesn't have the votes from the senate. >> exactly what it means. >> all right, jack. thanks very much. the president gets challenged to a throwdown by a college student. >> i think this is good. you know? this is good. you know. i like that. you've got to have a little fight, you know? this is a legitimate debate to have. >> isle speak with that college student who got the president to also make some health care headlines. plus, a bush administration justice department official wrote those controversial memos justifying waterboarding finds himself in some hot water back on campus right now. and if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. blue-dog democrats find it may help to side with health care reform critics.
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( whooshing, riders cheering )
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it's not every day the president of the united states gets challenged to a debate by a college student, but a student at colorado made some waves over the weekend, got the president to make some health care headlines in the process. watch this exchange. >> how you doing, mr. president? >> i'm good. what's your name? >> i'm zack. i'm a student at the university of colorado, boulder. >> good to talk to you. what are you studying? >> political science and business marketing. >> what's your question? >> i'd love to have a debate, all out anytime. i understand -- i'm willing to
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do that. but my question is this. we all know the best way to reduce prices in this economy is to increase competition. how in the world can a private corporation providing insurance compete with an entity that does not have to worry about making a profit, does not have to pay local property taxes, they do not -- they're not subject to local regulations? how can a company compete with that? and i'm not looking for anything -- i don't want generalities. i don't want philosophical arguments. i'm just asking a question. >> that's a great question. thank you for the question. i think ways that we can address those competitive issues. and you're absolutely right. if they are not entirely addressed, then that raise asset of legitimate problems. but the only point i wanted to make was the notion that somehow just by having a public option
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you have the entire private marketplace destroyed is just not borne out by the facts. and, in fact, right now you've got a lot of private company who is do very well competing against the government. u.p.s. and fedex are doing a lot better than the post office. no. they are. and so, but the larger point i want to make -- and it's good to see a young person who's very engaged and confident challenging the president to ask for sound debate. i think this is good. you know. i like that. you got to have a little chutzpah. you know? this is a legitimate debate to have. all i'm saying is, though, that the public option, whether we have it or we don't have it, is not the entirety of health care reform. this is just one sliver of it,
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one aspect of it, and by the way, it's both the right and the left that have become so fixated on this that they forget everything else, like the fact that we can help make them make sure that he doesn't suddenly find himself completely broke in trying to treat his son. so, we are working on a series of proposals to address the questions that you're raising. i believe that we can work them out. but those are specific questions as opposed to broad, philosophical questions about whether government ever has a role to play or not. keep in mind, finally -- and this is the last point that i'll make -- that you have a bunch of countries that have systems in which government is involved but you still have a thriving private ip shurns market. the netherlands being a good example.
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everybody's covered. everybody has care. the government has regulations in there. but it does not somehow take over the entire private insurance. so, i just want people to understand nobody is talking about a government takeover of health care. >> all right. so, there's the president responding to zack lane, and zack lane is joining us now from colorado. zack, thanks very much for coming in. >> thanks a lot for having me, wolf. >> did the president satisfy you? >> what i took as his answer was towards the end there when you heard him say that we're looking into it. i know even farther towards the end he got into exactly what i asked, generalities and philosophical arguments. that's not what i'm looking for. i'm looking for what will work for the united states, not anybody else. we're a whole different animal. >> he didn't satisfy you. >> no. >> exact the example he gave
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you, fedex and u.p.s., companies that compete with the government-run post office and they seem to be doing just fine? >> first off, yes, they were saying the government post office has a monopoly on first- and third-class mail and there's no competing with that. i think it's comparing apples to oranges because ups and fedex don't attempt -- they can't send mail and were subsidizing that mail at a loss. i mean, it's 42 cents for a stamp. u.p.s. and fedex can hand that will because we're subsidizing the loss of the government. >> but they compete with fedex, the post office competes with u.p.s. and fedex to ship boxes, overnight letters, priority mail, direct competition there and u.p.s. and fedex are doing just fine. >> i agree they're doing fine, but how can this compare to health care? how does this relate to health care? these are two totally different things. health care is subject to -- >> it only relates because you made the point that there's no way that private companies can
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compete with the government. the president of the united states came back and gave you a specific example where private companies do fine competing with the government. >> i didn't say there's no way. and actually, if you want to get technical about this, in 2004 the supreme court said that the u.s. post office is not a government corporation and they're not subject to the sherman antitrust laws. so, if you want to get technical about this, they're not actually competing with the government. i'm not saying in no cases can they, can it not happen. i'm saying very rarely does it work and why try an experiment with something this big. >> tell us something about yourself. did you vote for the president? are you a democrat, republican? what's your personal political background? >> i'm a conservative. and i've been quoted as working as a mccain volunteer. actually, i didn't start doing anything for mccain until palin jumped on. then i just made phone calls. so, that part wasn't really true about being a mccain volunteer. but, you know -- >> i know you're a student at
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the university of colorado, boulder, you're 23 years old. there's a blog out there saying you work for a conservative state senator in colorado. is that true? >> i interned for him, and that's all part of my schooling. there's plenty of people do that. i went down a cup dales a week. i don't see why that's any concern of this. why is my personal life being brought in? the media doesn't research the president's personal life. why mine? >> are you still ready for an oxford-style debate many. >> yes. >> and you're others to debate others, as well, i assume? >> i haven't thought about it but, you know, if there are people making decisions for this country, i'd be willing to do that, legislators, things like that, i'd be willing to do that. >> you asked the president a fair question and you got real news out of him when he mentioned the public option was only a sliver. that was the first time he seemed to be backing away from
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it. your question elicited that from him so, you should be pretty proud that you got him to say that in terms of your q&a. zach lahn, good luck. >> appreciate it, wolf. >> work hard at the university of colorado, do a good job and come back. >> i'm trying to right now. >> asked the question a good question, got a good answer. angry in india as one of its biggest film stars is held up by immigration officials at newark airport. so, what happened? and what is the star saying? plus, jets and homes ablaze after a deadly air show collision.
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t.j. holmes is monitoring
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other stories. what's going on? at least 19 people dead and dozens wounded after a suicide bombing outside police headquarters. this is in ingushetia, a russian republic that borders chechnya. russia's president fired the police chief saying the police failed eve on the protect themselves. it is the latest in a series of attacks blamed on islamic militants. president obama offered his condolences saying the latest attack highlights the concerning increase of violence in the region affecting officials and civilians alike. in russia for another tragedy to tell you about. take a look at this. two russian air force jets rehearsing for an air show collided near moscow. the pilots all ejected, but one was killed. and one of the jet crashed into houses, reportedly seriously wounding at least one person. also, a standing ovation for sergeant james crowley. you remember that name. he's the massachusetts police officer that sparked a race debate over his arrest of an
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african-american professor. sergeant crowley received ovation after he spoke briefly at the fraternal order of police in long beach, california. chicago a bit quieter today than usual. that's because many nonofficial city services are shut down for the day to save money. public libraries, which are usually quiet anyway, but they were pretty quiet, city hall, other government offices were closed. also, garbage service was suspended today as one of three reduced service days planned this year which should stave city more than $8 million. wolf, a lot of cities having to do what they've got to do. >> $8 million here, $8 million there, eventually becomes real money. >> adds up. president obama says there's one thing that won't change when it comes to health care reform. what he's promising war veterans. plus, a conservative blue-dog democrat finds it may pay to embrace health reform protesters rather than confront them. plus, should president obama campaign for a republican turned democrat?
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nation's fastest 3g network. only from at&t. ...or if you're already sick... ...or if you lose your job. your health insurance shouldn't either. so let's fix health care. if everyone's covered, we can make health care as affordable as possible. and the words "pre-existing condition" become a thing of the past... we're america's health insurance companies. supporting bipartisan reform that congress can build on. - hello! - ha! why don't you try a home cooked meal... with yummy hamburger helper? oh! tada! fantastically tasty, huh? ummm, it's good. what would you guys like? hamburger helper. what?! one pound... one pan... one tasty meal! for our viewers, you're in "the situation room." happening now, a hidden danger
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on board airplanes. new warnings about the air you breathe when you fly commercial. this is a report you will see only here on cnn. a mayor trying to be a good samaritan ends up in the hospital badly beaten. what happened when he tried to help a woman screaming for help? and he has plenty of experience going toe to toe on the issues. but can tom delay handle "dancing with the stars"? as one of the 16 new contestants picked for the hit television show. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." in this make-or-break month of the health care reform battle, the trench warfare is taking place at town hall meetings held by lawmakers across the country. one conservative blue-dog democrat finds it may pay to embrace protesters rather than confront them. our national political correspondent jessica yellin is looking into this story for us. jessica, what are you finding out? >> reporter: wolf, representative alan boyd is a blue-dog democrat in a northern
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florida district. today he held three town halls filled with some pretty angry constituents, and to quote one of them, he said, when it comes to congress, we're, quote, disillusioned and disgusted. >> hey. how are y'all? >> reporter: here's one way to defuse town hall rage -- side with the critics on something. >> i can not support this bill in the -- you know, in the version it's in now. we can do better. we can make it better. >> reporter: so, blue-dog alan boyd is opposed to the health care bill's moving through the house. hoe says as the bills stand right now, they don't do much for controlling cost. so much for democratic unity. perhaps sensing weakness that the republican has with this ad. some of his constituents are wondering the same. >> if we let pelosi and people like that direct us, we are
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doomed. >> the congress we've got today reminds me of a jackass running in the kentucky derby. >> reporter: and many are convinced illegal immigrants will be covered. >> they have not stripped illegal aliens from this health care bill. >> why are we inviting 50 million illegal invaders into our health care system? >> we're not going to do that. we're not going to do that. >> reporter: despite resistance, boyd says he's committed to passing something. >> you have to reform the current system. >> reporter: he prefers a co-op or exchange to a public option. >> change is something that would that will work and allow them to keep their own health care coverage if they like it. >> reporter: otherwise, he's holding his cards close to his vest. >> until we see what the senate does and what might come to the house floor. >> reporter: now, wolf, boyd didn't want to gave lot of specifics, but i will say he took heat from both sides.
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some of the quotes you didn't hear playing in that story were folks who insisted that the only way to bring down health care cost is with a government option. lots of folks want that still on the table. boyd says he's holding nine more of these town halls before the end of recess. wolf? >> jessica, thanks. jessica will be back in the next hour. president obama today trying to reassure war veterans about his health care reform plans. let's talk about that with our cnn political contributor, democratic strategist donna brazile and republican strategist kevin mad within the glover park group in washington which advises clients on health care. do you advise them pro or con to the president's plan? >> i think a lot of them are folks who want to be at the table. that's where a lot of this debate is being driven right now. >> here's what the president said at the convention of veterans out in arizona. >> since there's been so much misinformation out there about health insurance reform, let me say this. one thing that reform won't change is veterans health care. no one is going to take aware your benefits.
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that is the plain and simple truth. >> a lot of people point out his supporters, especially on the left, that veterans' benefits, that's a single-payer government option, if you will, that the veterans have. why isn't that good for the rest of the country? >> if you look at medicare and tricare and medicaid, those are three plans that are designed to help specific populations. i think this debate right now is being driven largely by folks who have medicare and medicaid as well as those who have private insurance. the big anxiety that many of these americans have, and that's why we're having such a very important and robust debate across the country, is that this is also a debate driven by cost, and they feel that right now what they've seen out of washington is a trillion-plus price tag on a health care bill but there's very little reform in it. and that's why you're seeing this debate back and forth. and it's been a departure from what we've seen up on capitol hill, which has been a very partisan debate over the minutia of the specifics.
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>> most of the people that i've seen are older americans. they're really concerned right now, especially seniors who rely on medicare, that their medicare benefits are going to go down if they start cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from medicare over the next ten years. >> first of all, it's a trillion dollars over ten years, and by some estimates including the cbo we could achieve some savings, or if we do nothing, we know the present path is unsustainable. wolf, seniors are very concerned, i know for a fact, because they know exactly that what they're receiving. they know what coverage they would like to keep. and they're worried. again, that's why it's so important to get all the information out there. the president i thought today did a great job in dispelling all the misinformation that applies to va care. my dad was listening to him. >> a lot of vets were listening, and he promised them flatly, as you heard, no one is going to take aware your benefits, that's the truth. you believe him? >> look, i think both republicans and democrats on
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chill care about health care reform for veterans. i think the difference is that we have very different opinions on the specifics, about how we get care. there are a lot of veterans out there that may not have been in that crowd, but there are a lot of older americans that worry that some of the proposals, whether including a public plan or some of the cuts from medicare, would hurt their options and would hurt their costs. those were legitimate concerns they have. and so far, the president has lost the debate when it comes to arguing those concerns. >> i don't think the president's lost the debate. i think the president is rebuilding the case for health care reform because so much was lost and all the sausage grinding that folks are familiar with from the hill. but it's important that the american people learn the facts and get their information so they can help their -- >> let me switch to raw politics, as we like to say. the bite getting ready in the next few weeks to go out and campaign for republican turned democrat arlen specter in pennsylvania. he's got a potentially tough
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primary challenge from democratic congressman joe sestse sest sestak. should the president get involved in internal politics in pennsylvania? >> well, i think part of the commit at the time president has is to make sure democrats like arlen specter are re-elected. this will be a very contested primary. joe has raised a lot of money, $4.5 million. mr. specter has $7.5 million. but it will be a contentious primary, like the lieberman/lamont fight, like a family fight. but i think overall the president has to go out there and support democrats. >> a new member of the democratic party. is it appropriate for the president and vice president to support arlen specter? >> they have to. he's a democrat because he cut a deal with the senate leadership and probably with the white house. i don't have the proof on it but -- >> become a democrat if they promised him that they would support him. >> correct, and raise money for
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him and they would -- >> is there a deal like that, though? >> i wasn't in the room so, i don't like to -- >> you know. >> wolf, sometimes you have to keep your mouth shut. >> i'll say that there was a deal. that way you don't have to, donna. so, they have to. and so they have to go out there and put the full force of the pennsylvania democrat apparatus and governor rendell's operation behind him. >> it's interesting that they couldn't convince joe sestak not to challenge arlen specter. but they've convinced in to not challenge jillian. >> he's a great candidate, but arlen specter, 30 years, he's tough also. i'm neutral. >> thanks very much. outrage and claims of racial profiling in india after a bollywood superstar is stopped at newark airport. what the actor is saying and more. and protests at the university of california, berkeley, as a controversial official in the bush administration is back on campus.
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the bush administration justice department official wrote memos justifying waterboarding, stirring up controversy again. this time back on campus at california's berkeley law school. dan simon has the story for us. he's joining us live. what's going on, dan? >> reporter: well, hi, wolf. well, today is the first day of classes here at berkeley's law school. and it has not been a very warm welcome for professor john yue, who has been a lightning rod for critics of the bush administration. take a look. as an attorney for the justice department in the george w. bush administration, he wrote memos that justified the use of waterboarding terrorism suspects and the wiretapping of u.s. citizens. now a law professor at cal, berkeley, his presence is drawing scorn and protesters to the school. with some critics saying he has no business in the classroom, and the university should sever
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the relationship. stephanie tang is an organizer with world can't wait, a group that advocates for verds of what it calls the fascist direction initiated by the bush regime. what are you calling for? >> for him to be fired from his position at the university of california, to be disbarred from the practice of law, and to be prosecuted for war crimes. >> reporter: yoo, like former vice president dick cheney, has been outspoke en in the defense of harsh interrogation. >> this wasn't worth it? well, we haven't had an attack in more than seven years. >> reporter: in a recent opinion piece for "the wall street journal," yoo writes to limit the president's constitutional power to protect the nation from foreign threats is simply foolhardy. protesters, including some australian comedians, meanwhile, have tried to make yoo look like a fool. this video, which has gone viral on the internet, has a comic infiltrating one of yoo's lectures. the guy dons a costume reminiscent of the photos from abu ghraib.
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and that's just what he did. yoo has been teaching here at beshg lease' law school on and off for about the last 15 years. he has a firm backing from the law school not for his views but for his rights to due process and academic freedom. we should also note that professor yoo's class this semester on civil procedure has a substantial waiting list. wolf? >> interesting. all right, dan. thank you. he's a household name in india, the star of dozens of films, but his name solicited problems in the united states. and many are furious at american's authorities. cnn's mary snow is working the story for us. mary, tell our viewers what happened. >> reporter: well, wolf, we'll start with description of the start, describing him as india's brad pitt and tom cruise in one.
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that's how big he is. but shah rukh khan says it's his last name that caught attention of u.s. immigration officials. it's kicked off a firestorm that he's now trying to quell. he's an icon in india. c shah rukh khan, known for his energetic dance moves, have starred in several bollywood movies. but his star status at newark friday, immigration officials questioned him for nearly an hour. >> they kept telling me it's because your name is common. and i was too polite to ask common to what? you know? so, it's a bit of an issue. >> reporter: as kahn posed for pictures with fans sunday in houston, fans in india were outraged at u.s. officials after kahn said he was detained. protesters took to the streets. some even burnt an american flag. when government officials suggested subjecting americans to the same kind of treatment
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when they visit india. a columnist with the mumbai mirror says the anger isn't so much about racial profiling. >> it is more about how dare you, america, stop a very well-known -- our most famous actor and insult him? >> reporter: the u.s. ambassador to india even weighed in over the weekend, noting kahn is a global icon and a very welcome guest in the united states. u.s. customs and border protection denies kahn was detained. a cbp spokesman said kahn was selected for a secondary inspection, which he calls routine. he would not say why kahn was singled out, citing privacy issues. he said because kahn's luggage on the british airways flight got lost, the interview lasted longer than usual. as for the anger over the incident, the cbp said in a statement -- kahn says he understands the
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needs for security but adds d -- >> the attitude obviously is it's better to be safe than sorry. but in that maybe you do tend to elongate the process for regular people who want to be if not welcome, at least feel not unwelcome when they come to your country. >> reporter: kahn just finished filming a movie dealing with issues of racial profiling in the u.s. after 9/11. it's called "my name is kahn." while he's getting a lot of support, some skeptics are wondering if he's seeking publicity. >> causing a stir in india. but the u.s. ambassador to india, tim roamer, said he wants to get to the bottom of what happened. is there a formal postmortem, an investigation under way? >> you know, we talked to his spokesman today who referred us to customs and border protection, which says there is no review at this point, no investigation. kahn himself is saying he wants to move on. he says he understands people's
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anger but he says he doesn't want this to become any bigger than it already is. >> did get a lot of publicity, no doubt about that, mary. thank you. a shocking study. are magazine photos putting babies' lives at risk simply by showing shem sleeping in unsafe positions? what you need to know. we have that information for you. and beneath the waves off the coast of israel, there are some who say, get this, there could be a mermaid.
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let's get right back to jack for "the cafferty file." jack? >> big story today, what does it mean if president obama is willing to retreat on health care? more specifically, on the so-called public option. ramone writes -- this is not the change we voted for. it's pathetic. chris says --
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joseph writes -- if they don't pass a public option in this health care reform bill, i give up on anything important ever getting done in this country that will bring about real change. albert in los angeles --
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r.j. writes -- if you didn't see your e-mail here, go to my blog,, look for yours there among hundreds of others. >> pretty strong feelings out there. >> very strong feelings. >> jack, thank you. a study out today finds that women's magazines often show photos of babies sleeping in unsafe positions and surrounded by soft bedding. the pictures may send some subliminal messages that could be putting babies' lives at actual risk. let's bring in our senior medical correspondent, elizabeth cohen, to explain what's going on. what did the study find out? >> what these researchers did is they looked at 400 different photographs in magazines. some were ads, some just photos, and they found out of the 400, only 36 showed a baby being put
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to bed in the right way. this obviously is problematic. people know or should know they're supposed to put their babies to bed on their back with no soft bedding but when they see magazine pictures that show something different, there is concern that people may look at those photos and get the wrong message. >> what are some examples? >> let me show you some examples that were used in the actual study. first, take a look at this. this is a celebrity. i know it's a little hard to see but a celebrity putting her twins to sleep, first of all, together in a crib. they're both there. that is bad, according to the american academy of pediatrics. also, they're surrounded by soft bedding which is hard to see in this picture, but twins together with lots of soft bedding, that is not a good thing. then if you take a look at this, this is an ad for pampers. the baby is on her side. she should not be on her side. and also, she is also surrounded by soft bedding. so we asked the folks who make pampers what's up, why did you show the baby in that position, and pampers said we're striving for 100% record in this area and
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encourage other advertisers to do the same. while we may have had a miss, this is the exception and not the rule. they said now they're working with the american academy of pediatrics to make it better. >> how can parents, elizabeth, prevent sids? >> what they can do is you put your baby on her back to sleep. you can remember it by thinking back to sleep. no soft bedding, no fluffy bumpers and also, don't make your baby too warm. cooler is better than warmer. >> a pacifier is okay? >> it's okay. >> good to know. thanks very much, elizabeth cohen reporting. how safe is the air on board airplanes? we will tell you what a team of scientists is saying after a nearly three-year study. a report you will see only here on cnn. get this, there's a $1 million reward for capturing a mermaid and it's happening in northern israel. we will go there. what is going on? ( car door closes ) ooooch! hot seat! hot! hot! hot!
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lot of people suggest it's simply a tourist ploy. dozens of so-called mermaid sightings have been reported as an israeli beach town. now there's a $1 million reward being offered to anyone who can prove that she exists.
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paula hancocks reports. >> reporter: beneath the waves of the mediterranean sea is a world teeming with life. what you may not have realized is among that life lives a mermaid. that's according to some residents of this israeli seaside town who claim they've seen it. >> they told us they have seen something of a girl with tail of a fish and she was smiling at them, and then jump and disappeared after a few seconds. they were very sure. these are very reasonable people. >> reporter: sounds like a fishy tale to me and i'm not the only one who thinks so. this local tells me the only thing in this part of the sea is rubbish from the steady stream of ships sailing to the nearby port. this man printed a pretty
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grotesque version of what he thinks the mermaid looks like. but it took a 15-year-old to keep my cynicism in check. >> 2,000 years ago, nobody believed the earth is like circle. today, everybody knows that. maybe it will be there, i don't know. >> reporter: according to eyewitness accounts, the mermaid only comes out at sunset and she's apparently a little camera-shy as well, as no one has photographic evidence. but if you do, there is a $1 million reward in it for you. those who claim to have seen her are also a little camera-shy. we didn't find a single eyewitness. but the mayor assures me it's not a tourist ploy, although tourism is being boosted. the local children ask him if the mermaid is real and so do i. >> do you believe there's a mermaid out there? >> my wife asked me the same thing. i told her she is the last mermaid i have seen.
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>> reporter: not to be denied an opportunity, the municipality started a cinema for the local children. playing now, what else, "the little mermaid." paula hancock, cnn. happening now, new anger at the president over health care. this time, it's coming from his left. this hour, some liberals fear he's abandoning them along with the idea of a government-run health insurance option. plus, a cnn investigation. the air you breathe inside a plane may, may be poisonous. this woman says toxic fumes gave her tremors, blind spots and headaches. she's not alone. allan chernoff on the flying hazard you may not know about. a mayor to the rescue. he responds to the screams of a grandmother with a child and he gets beaten on the head with a pipe. we're just getting in the dramatic 911 phone calls. i'm wolf blitzer in cnn's
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command center for breaking news, politics and extraordinary reports from around the world. reports from around the world. you're in "the situation room." -- captions by vitac -- this is just a taste of the latest ruckus over health care reform. listen to this. dueling groups of protesters turn out in phoenix for the president's visit. he wasn't even there to talk about health care but is being dogged by some liberal democrats in particular right now. they fear he's given up on a key proposal they don't want to live without. let's bring in our white house correspondent, dan lothian. he's working this story for us. it's the backlash over the so-called government health insurance option that's angering a lot of liberals right now. they feel the president may be abandoning them. >> reporter: that's right, but the president has never really drawn the line in the sand on this public option, but he's made it very clear that that is what he wants.
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now with this apparent softer tone from the administration, the public option debate among his supporters is heating up. >> are you talking to your family? >> reporter: supporters of the president's health care overhaul plan fired up in phoenix. >> every american deserves health care that they can afford. >> reporter: but as counter demonstrators shouted them down, there was vigorous debate among supporters over the public option, which has been a central part of the president's push. >> if the public option goes away, obama -- president obama's already a lame duck president. >> i'm hopeful that we can compromise. it's just the right thing to do. it's a moral decision. >> reporter: this comes after the administration appeared to be downplaying the significance of the public option, which has faced strong opposition from capitol hill to congressional town hall meetings. in response to a question from john king on cnn's "state of the union" the secretary of health and human services seemed to leave the door open to something other than a public option.
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>> -- if the votes aren't there it's time to come up with plan b? >> what's important is choice and competition. i'm convinced at the end of the day the plan will have both of those, but that is not the essential element. >> reporter: back outside the president's vfw event in phoenix, some said you can't have reform without the public option. >> republicans will smell blood if we don't get the public option. >> it means that he's lost the fight. >> reporter: the administration is fighting to get health care reform done this year, promoting choice, competition and controlling costs as a key point. these demonstrators may not get everything they want, but hope they'll get what they need. >> we have to make sure it passes because, you know, all of our lives depend on it one way or another. >> reporter: the spokesperson at the white house on health reform says quote, that nothing has changed. this is an attempt by the white house to sort of damp down this public option debate that we have heard today. the white house really saying that the president does believe that the public option is the best way for him to achieve all
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the goals that he has in reforming health care. >> dan lothian's working the story at the white house. the house speaker is rushing to the defense of a government-run health care option. nancy pelosi issuing a statement today explaining several reasons why she thinks that option would bring real reform, in her words. some democrats now have big doubts about the future of health care reform in the house. just a short while ago, i asked congressman anthony wiener of new york if he would vote for legislation that did not include a public option. >> i don't even think i'll have to because they won't even bring that to the floor. in the house of representatives, without a strong public plan, even stronger than the one we reported out of committee, i think it would have a very difficult time getting 218 votes. >> let's go beyond the political bickering right now. what are these two words, public option, really mean and what would happen if that idea were taken off the table? let's go to cnn's tom forman. make sense of this for us.
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explain the public option and all of that. >> we heard so much talk about it, it's hard to keep track but look at it this way. the argument from those who wanted reform all along has been that what we have now are a bunch of private insurance companies, that's where people are. there's limited competition between them. limited reason for them to bring prices down, so prices go up and that people like this who aren't really in any plan who are drifting around out here. what they wanted was for one of these to go away, in effect, to be replaced by a government insurance program. this program would give a place for all of these people to go who are currently outside of plans so they can be included, and just as importantly, because it would have as its main goal, controlling costs, keeping it under control, it would put pressure on the others to drive costs down. >> what was the fundamental complaint of the so-called public option? >> the fundamental complaint was not that it would make for a sale on prices over here which is what people were initially looking for. the fundamental complaint was that it would actually cause the
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other ones here to go out of business. that was the complaint. now, the cbo came up with a study that said they did not believe that was going to be the case. nonetheless, that was the big worry which has led to yet another concern, the idea of saying if that's not the case and if this is taken off the table, can you go to an insurance cooperative. an insurance cooperative, simply put, is this idea. you take all of these people all over the country, especially those who don't have insurance, and you say let's try to connect all of them to each other. if we can do that by making little connections here and let them support each other economically by basically buying into a nonprofit organization where they all share in this, they can create pressure on the insurance industry to keep prices down and give a place for all of these people to go but how this program will shape up is really up in the air, just as the other one was before, this one more so. the debate goes on. >> tom forman, thanks very much. to keep track of the town halls and health care debeat and to learn what reform efforts might
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mean for you, go to our new health care in america website. check the facts, the statistics, read the blogs, see the videos at care. more on this story coming up. but here's a picture taken during the president's visit to arizona today that we couldn't ignore. a man toting an assault rifle, check it out. brian todd is here looking at this story for us. what was this all about? >> this was about the latest example of gun rights activists showing their weapons during a presidential visit to send a message about their rights. this man, one of about a dozen people with guns mingling among protesters in phoenix, today. local police say this was perfectly legal, he did not need a special permit and no one was arrested. the man did not want to be identified. he explained to a reporter why he was there. >> i come from another state where open carry is legal, but no one does it, so the police don't really know about it and they harass people, arrest
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people falsely. i think that people need to get out and do it more so that they get kind of conditioned to it. >> something like this has happened before. a man stood outside of the president's town meeting in new hampshire last week with a gun strapped to his leg, so there is a bit of a pattern here. again, nothing illegal about this occurrence in phoenix today. >> but the picture right behind you, pretty amazing picture. a lot of us are not used to seeing that. >> when you see it out there, your eyes pop. >> the secret service -- >> they get pretty nervous. let's go to jack cafferty. he's got "the cafferty file." >> what if some nut takes that gun away from that guy? >> that's the nightmare that the secret service worries about. >> might not be illegal but it's just plain stupid. one man's opinion. percentage of americans who say economic concerns are the nation's top problem is actually decreasing by the number who are worried about health care is on the rise. economic issues like unemployment, the deficit, a new
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poll shows 60% of those surveyed cite an economic issue such as those, the economy in general, as the nation's most serious concern. that is down, actually, from 69% last month. the current mood is the same as it was last september, before the bankruptcies and the bailouts all began. as the debate over health care rages on, 25% of americans say that is the country's most important problem and that number is up from 16% just one month ago. gallop points out this spike in interest in health care is similar to what was reported when president clinton tried health care reform in the early 1990s. meanwhile, although polls suggest more americans think the economy is improving, a lot of experts are saying not so fast. economists warn the recovery will be weak compared to periods that followed previous recessions, and in fact, investors' fears over consumer spending and a decline in consumer confidence sent the markets down by the largest
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amount in six weeks today. and as our lawmakers in washington try to figure out how to pay for a health care overhaul with a potential price tag of $1 trillion over ten years, it's worth pointing out that the two issues of health care and the economy are obviously very much intertwined. nevertheless, we will separate them out for the purpose of this here question. which concerns you more, health care or the economy? go to and post a comment on my blog. >> did you notice some of those health care companies, stocks actually went up today under the assumption that the public option was toast. >> it doesn't take long for wall street to figure these things out, does it? >> no. they move very, very quickly. good work. thank you. flight attendant develops debilitating symptoms. >> you can't see my hand right now? >> no. >> what do you see? >> a black spot. >> she blames her health problems on the air inside the plane, air that can contain
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toxic chemicals. what are we all breathing when we fly? and for years, they have been top secret, thousands of pages of documents on ufo sightings are released. new details of alleged close encounters. plus, a big city mayor trying to come to a woman's assistance. he winds up brutally attacked. >> it's cost him physically and emotionally, lost some teeth as a result of it, but he did the right thing.
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he was a good samaritan trying to come to the aid of a grandmother screaming for help. she was being attacked in what turned out to be a domestic dispute. then the attackers turned on him. brutally striking him over and over and over with a metal pipe, but that wasn't just any good samaritan. it was the mayor of one of the country's largest cities, milwaukee. let's go to cnn's jessica gomez. she's in milwaukee working this story for us. how's the mayor, tom barrett, doing? >> reporter: well, the mayor was released from the hospital here just a short time ago. as you mentioned, he was badly beaten while trying to be a good samaritan. i talked to the grandmother today. she is scared for her life. she wanted to come say thank you. she told us to relay the message she is so thankful and so grateful to the mayor.
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>> well, we were grateful that she's okay and the baby's okay. that was one of those things that we were very, very glad. >> reporter: a grandmother and her baby granddaughter are okay today because of this man, who happens to be the mayor of milwaukee, tom barrett. i caught up with the mayor's brother, john, outside the hospital where the mayor is being treated. how is she doing? >> scary stuff. she was actually out of town. it's just very scary. >> reporter: the mayor and his family had been walking to his car after the state fair when they heard this. >> they get to their parking spot, they encounter the situation where this woman is pleading for help. she's like help me, help me.
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>> reporter: that was the grandmother shouting for help. police say she was being threatened by the baby's father. you got pretty emotional yesterday. >> tom stepped up and did the right thing. he called 911 and tried to calm the situation, protect the grandmother and her grandchild. as a result of his actions, tom was attacked and struck repeatedly with a metal object. >> reporter: the attacker, police say, was the father of the baby. again, mayor tom barrett's brother. >> he says i have a gun and i'm not afraid to shoot everybody here and then the kids start to cry so tom says to my sister, you know, get the kids out of here, get the kids out of here. >> reporter: shortly before he became a victim himself, mayor tom barrett was promoting community watch programs. >> they're more watchful of seeing things that are out of the ordinary in the neighborhood and if there's problems, they can alert each other.
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>> you always think i'm going to do the right thing but when the rubber hits the road, that's not always what you do, and this situation, tom did the exact right thing. >> reporter: what are you going to tell him when you see him? >> i just tell him that i love him. >> reporter: the 20-year-old suspect in this case is expected to be charged later this week. wolf? >> what a mayor. what a courageous guy. jessica gomez reporting. thanks for that. you might worry about catching a cold on a plane but there's something potentially a whole lot worse in the air. cnn's investigating toxic fumes that could be making passengers and flight attendants and pilots sick. plus, governor mark sanford's wife has some surprising new comments about his affair with that woman from argentina. jenny sanford thinks he could use a 12-step program. why you could have a form of drug money in your own pocket right now.
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t.j. holmes is monitoring other important stories incoming to "the situation room" right now. what's going on? >> we're talking about the wife of south carolina governor mark sanford who now says her husband's relationship with his mistress is like an addiction. in an interview with "vogue" magazine, jenny sanford says she has learned through counseling that he was obsessed with seeing her. mrs. sanford, who has moved out of the governor's mansion, also says divorce, still an option. governor sanford admitted in june to having a year-long affair with a woman in argentina. turning to california now, wildfires out there still giving firefighters fits but firefighters appear to be getting a leg up on several wildfires burning there.
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one large blaze in northern california, about 65% contained after scorching about 11 square miles. another is about a quarter contained. hundreds of people still evacuated. farther south, santa barbara county, a wildfire has charred 137 square miles, is about three-quarters under control. that was started at an illegal marijuana farm believed to be run by a mexican drug cartel. and check your pockets. there's a good chance you've got some cocaine in your pocket right now. let me explain. the cash in your wallet could have traces of cocaine on it. research released over the weekend added weight to previous findings that 90% of paper money contains traces of the drug. the chief researcher says it was more likely to show up on 5s, 10s, 20s and 50s rather than the lowly $1 bill. he said currency can become contaminated during drug deals, snorting cocaine or in currency counting machines at the bank. i'm going to stick with the debit card, i believe. not have any problem.
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>> something interesting, d.c. has a very high percentage of those bills that have traces of cocaine, so we have asked brian todd to take a closer look in the coming days. we'll see what he finds out. thanks very much for that. even as the remnants of a tropical storm drench the south, a major hurricane may be brewing out in the atlantic right now. let's go to our cnn severe weather expert, meteorologist chad myers, at the cnn hurricane headquarters. tell us the latest forecast, what we're learning. >> 90 miles per hour right now, is bill. that's the speed at the center of circulation. here's the u.s. virgin islands, this is still south america. we're still talking about a very long way out into the ocean, but it is going to continue to move toward the u.s. and eventually turn. it's that turn that we're so worried about. when does it occur, if at all, and as it turns to the north, does it hit the east coast, bermuda, or miss everything all together. that three in the middle right
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there means category 3, 120 mile per hour storm. that will get your attention. what has changed all day would be the computer models and how they have moved. that right there, that's bermuda. for most of the day, the models have been very close to bermuda. late today, now the models have been shifting to the west. why does that matter? well, the closer we get to really landfall, the more accurate the models get. if the models are saying farther and farther and farther to the west, that would make landfall across the east coast more likely, although the east coast still not in that cone that we talk about right now. still forecast to move away from the u.s. >> if it went west, it could hit anywhere along the east coast, all the way from north carolina up to maine some place. >> absolutely. there's a huge high pressure system right here. it's like a hand keeping a balloon under water, so that balloon keeps going this way. when the high moves away, that balloon can go up. we have to wait for that high to get out of the way so that it does turn and get out of our
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life. >> we're watching it closely with you. thanks very much. it may be a kind of russian roulette when you get on the airplane. will you breathe dangerous fumes, will they make you sick. >> so one person could be sitting in a seat and the person next to them could be the one who has these horrific symptoms. >> it has a huge response to it. tremors and loss of memory. >> the other person could have no effect? >> no noticeable effect at all. >> stand by for a special cnn investigation that could affect all of us who fly. plus, is president obama saying one thing to the gay community and doing another? and ufo sightings revealed. this isn't science fiction. this is from the british government. they just released thousands of documents.
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threat you probably haven't heard a whole lot about, until now. the air inside some passenger jets may be poisonous. poisonous. some people say their health and lives have been destroyed by breathing toxic fumes while on board planes. our senior correspondent, allan chernoff, is joining us. he's done a cnn investigation. tell us what you've learned. >> reporter: it might seem the biggest health danger from the air we breathe on board a plane might be a passenger sneezing near you but the fact is, in some cases, the air circulating through the cabin can actually be toxic. former flight attendant terry williams says she can barely care for her sons because she suffers from a series of mysterious ailments. she complains of debilitating migraine headaches and tremors. >> it's uncontrollable. i can't stop it from twitching or trembling. >> reporter: and blind spots in her field of vision.
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>> you can't see my hand right now? >> no. >> what do you see? >> a block spot. >> reporter: the symptoms, williams says, began near the end of a flight more than two years ago when she says she saw smoke blowing through a vent. in a lawsuit against boeing, owner of mcdonnell-douglas which made the md-82 aircraft on which she was working, she claims her disability resulted from inhaling poisonous fumes. boeing told cnn it is our belief that air quality on airplanes is healthy and safe. half of what we breathe on board a jet liner is filtered, recirculated air. the other half comes through the jet engine. it's pressurized, cooled and then mixed with the recirculated air. in some cases, that air, called bleed air, which bleeds off jet engines, can be toxic. if an engine oil seal leaks, aviation engineers and scientists say the fumes can enter the cabin. boeing says in its response to
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williams' suit, the potential for bleed air contamination has been known through the aviation industry for many years. though the company denies any responsibility for terry williams' illness. a national academies of sciences study in 2002 found contaminant exposures do occur, resulting from the intake of chemical contaminants like engine lubricating oils into the environmental control system and then into the cabin. a neuropsychologist recently study more than two dozen british pilots who claimed they had inhaled contaminated air. >> they did appear to underperform on tasks that required attention, processing space, reaction time. >> reporter: angie estes, who suffers tremor attacks, believes she inhaled such toxins as a passenger. there's a danger of inhaling compounds coming out of the engines if the seals fail and there are potent toxins that can
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come on board when the seals fail. >> reporter: does that happen? >> it does happen. >> reporter: how often? a british study for the house of lords found fume events in one of every 2,000 flights. in the u.s., airlines are required to report fume events to the federal aviation administration. there were 108 such reports last year. so why wouldn't more flight attendants, pilots and passengers suffer symptoms? furlong explains relatively few people will react to the most toxic chemicals. high levels of enzymes in their bodies which for some people can be triggered by prescription drugs, will act on the inhaled chemicals to magnify their toxicity. >> if you happen to be taking a medication that turns on the protein that converts the pretoxin into very potent toxin, you have an issue. >> reporter: so one person could be sitting in a seat and the person next to them could be the one who has these horrific symptoms? >> it has a huge response to it. tremors and loss of memory and
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so forth. >> reporter: the other person could have no effect? >> no noticeable effect at all. >> reporter: terry williams says she wasn't taking prescription drugs during the fume event but professor furlong says enzyme levels can vary greatly between people, even resulting from the foods they eat. boeing's new plane, the dreamliner 787, has been designed without bleed air off the engines. the company says that's only for fuel efficiency purposes, not because of any concern about the quality of bleed air. indeed, boeing and the faa say the air quality in airplanes is as good or better than that in the average office building or home. wolf? >> how might you know if you have been exposed on a plane to this toxic bleed air, as it's called? >> reporter: wolf, scientists say that you would actually smell a dirty sock smell. that's one of the chemicals contained in the fumes coming off of engine oil that would be consumed by the actual engine. so that's the real sign there.
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>> what if somebody takes off their shoes and has dirty socks? you could smell dirty socks and get confused. that's a problem. >> reporter: this is a more serious smell throughout the entire aircraft. remember it's being circulated throughout the entire cabin. everyone would smell something there. in that case, you want to try to filter it out with some sort of cloth. >> good point. good report. thank you. files detailing hundreds of ufo sightings reported to britain's defense ministry are now being released online. our internet reporter, abbi tatton, has been going through them. what are you finding? >> reporter: here's one that was released today from 1993 from a terrified londoner who reported seeing something silvery, luminous, like a full moon that hovered motionless over the rooftops. he even included the sketch for the ministry of defense to show them what he had seen, flashing lights, a flying saucer, he insisted it was. this is an air ship over the
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skies of london but this is one of hundreds of reports that have now been released in the uk documenting what brits thought they have seen over the skies of the uk in the '80s and the '90s. i will go through some of these. you would never visit again if you were going to believe all of them. let me show you this guy we found, an alien shaped like a banana, apparently blue, flying through the skies in 1989. i'm no expert but i think in some cases, people were just having a laugh. >> they were having a laugh. but other sightings apparently were taken more seriously. >> reporter: one in particular. an incident called the randall forest incident, also known as britain's roswell. this was in 1980 shortly after christmas when a few american airmen stationed in the uk reported seeing a ufo that landed right there in front of them. this is the report that they put out at the time, that it was metallic, triangular in shape, it illuminated the forest with a white light. there are pages and pages of documents on this particular incident but the ministry of
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defense, not able to offer any explanation. >> do the sightings reveal any pattern and what was reported? >> reporter: there is one in particular, apparently 1996, big year for aliens in the uk. why? you have to see what was on tv and in the cinema at the time. "the x files" was wildly popular, "independence day," lots of people going to see that and apparently at the same time, everyone was seeing ufos. >> that makes sense. thanks for that. a town hall outrage. >> if we let pelosi and people like that direct us, we are doomed. we are doomed. >> but it's not just about health care. what's really behind a lot of that anger? we're taking a political time-out. and tom delay is dancing with the stars. at least training to dance with the stars. jeanne moos getting ready to take a most unusual look.
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what's with all the town hall rage? joining us, david frum, malika henderson and joe johns. first some background from our national political correspondent, jessica yellin.
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>> these town hall meetings, members of congress are being pelted with angry questions. but sometimes, the questions aren't just about health care reform. some seem to speak to a deeper sense of frustration. listen to this question congressman alan boyd of flad faced today. >> why are we inviting 50 million illegal invaders who broke the law into our health care system? >> we're not going to do that. we're not going to do that. that is a bill that i don't support. we're not going to do that. if there's one thing that you take away from this meeting, i want you to go home and sleep well tonight, we're not going to do that. >> okay. how about on the border? what ammo's on the border? >> what ammo? we are already doing some of that. >> is this a country for the people, by the people, or is it a corporation by the corporations? >> you know the answer to that. thank you. >> one minute joe is upset about
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illegal immigrants taking taxpayer resources, the next, upset about big business presumably because they're getting government bailouts regular americans can't get. this isn't unusual at these town halls. clearly, folks are feeling squeezed from above and from below. so the question is, what's the rage over health care reform really about? >> good question. david, what do you think? >> i think it is really about health care but it's occurring against the background of a very prolonged economic recession. we have had news this week that the german economy is now beginning to recover rapidly from the german downturn, very severe downturn. france seems to be coming out of recession. canada, japan. the united states is the laggard. if you look at people who are unemployed and underemployed, you get frustrated, a joblessness rate of 16%. the united states may be having the worst recession in the world and the measures the obama administration has put in place supposedly to help are not delivering results. >> so the rage over health care, is it really the rage over the economy? >> i think it probably, the rage over the economy.
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i think in some ways, if you were to go back a year ago, these are some of the folks who would have been at the palin/mccain rally expressing concerns over immigration and iraq. i think going forward the question is how much are they really going to frame the debate about health care. it looks like we have seen movement on some of the issues. >> if the economy starts to show signs of improvement the next month or two or three, does that help the chances at health care reform being enacted? >> i have heard it both ways. there are some people who say it will actually show the government can attack a serious problem and do something about it. on the other hand, if the president looks at it and says we need to push it through just the same, a lot of people can say well, recession's over, there's not as much urgency. so it sort of cuts both ways. a lot of strategists are talk about that. >> how should democrats be dealing with this? >> this goes to the issue of the president's credibility.
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he spent $800 billion, added it to the debt, on the premise of relief. >> the economic stimulus. >> economic stimulus. hard to prove that it's not working but people, if they compare their situation to where they would like to be, if they compare america to other countries, including, by the way, canada next door, they see things here are a lot worse than in a lot of places and they look like they are going to stay bad longer, what was that $800 billion spent for. now you want another how many trillions for health care. >> the old question are you better off now than you were six months or a year ago. a lot of folks will be asking that question. guys, hold your fire for a moment. we have a lot more to talk about. the president calls the law discrimination but the justice department is defending the defense of marriage act. what are the issues angering his gay and lesbian supporters and other folks as well? plus, they called him the hammer on capitol hill but will tom delay display a lighter touch when he appears on "dancing with the stars." jeanne moos takes a most unusual look.
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we're back with david frum, maleka henderson and joe johns. back to jessica yellin, there's a very sensitive subject the president is focusing in on right now. >> sometimes in washington folks say one thing but do another. is that what's happening with the obama administration and gay rights? remember when he promised this. >> i have stated repeatedly that don't ask, don't tell makes no sense. >> we are going to overturn it. >> there, he was talking about don't ask, don't tell and six months into his term, he hasn't touched it. now, today there's gay marriage. the administration's latest moves have the gay community outraged and confused. today, the obama administration filed court papers defending the federal ban on gay marriage. now, this is the second time the obama administration took that same position in this case. last time, president obama's
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attorneys compared the ban on gay marriage to laws prohibiting incest and child molestation. this time, the president and his attorneys backed away from that position, saying the ban on gay marriage is discrimination and should be overturned, but they plan to do that in congress, not in the court. so now some of the president's supporters are asking when will he make good on his campaign promises. the question today is does president obama have the political will to deliver on his promises to the gay community. >> you cover the white house. what's the answer? >> i think the question is, is he going to use his political capital that way. so far, it seems he will wait on congress. what's happening here is in both houses, the house and the senate, there are people stepping up to take this on. in september, the senate will meet to discuss this and the feeling there is that they're really going to be able to frame the debate for the obama administration and go forward from there. >> there's a lot of disappointment in the gay and lesbian community right now that at least don't ask, don't tell, he hasn't even started the ball
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moving in terms of eliminating that. >> among the problems for the president is he's already got this huge policy war on one front over health care. does he want to launch into a cultural war on the other hand over gay rights. we know what happened in the clinton administration when he took on don't ask, don't tell. it was a real distraction for the administration in its first term. so these are things they have to think about. then you have to think about the pentagon and the hawks in the congress who say there are issues that you have to work on here, because of the sort of intimate setting that military people are involved in in, you know, when they're in the air force, marines, navy, whathave you. all kinds of issues there, very difficult for the president to wade in right now given the other things he's dealing with. >> how should the president deal with this? he certainly has a lot on his plate right now. >> he should stand back. the president is not the ruler of the country. he presides over one part of the government. and the society can come to moral consensus on important issues and the president can step back from them, say this is
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not something -- i don't need to watch every sparrow -- >> despite his campaign promises? >> he shouldn't have made so many campaign promises. now he's got a problem because he's in a mode where the promises are politically-he's i promises are politically impossible to quit and create an expectation of his intimate involvement with issues. >> we'll continue this conversation the weeks and months ahead. thank you very much. let's check in with lou to see what's coming up. lou? >> wolf, thank you very much. much more tonight on the apparent disarray in the white house over the president's health care initiatives. the administration insisting president obama still supports a public option, even though top officials suggest the idea could be abandoned. also, americans losing patience with the president and the showdown over health care is looming. those americans expressing anger and frustration in town hall meetings across the country. the white house and its supporters, however, striking back and hard.
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we'll have the story. new controversy over your second amendment right to bear arms. gun control advocates furious that a man with a rifle turned up outside the president's event in phoenix, arizona. that will be the subject of one of our face-off debates tonight. join us for all that at the top of the hour. wolf, back to you. >> thanks, lou. let's check in with jack. >> the question this hour is what concerns you more these days, health care or the economy? jeff writes from georgia --
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>> if you didn't see your e-mail here, you can go to my blog. ly look for you tomorrow. >> before i let you go, jack, you have a pretty good sense of what's going on. if you look ahead three, four months down the road, obama health care, is it passed or is it like clinton health care? >> i don't know. my instincts suggests that this thing may be in its death throes. if we get anything, it's not going to be anything what they started out to try to do. it will be some sort of watered down version would be my guess. i don't know, but the sounds coming out of the administration over the weekend indicated to me that the opponents of this thing have got them on the run. >> jack, thank you very much. we'll see what happens.
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a huge, huge story. he used to be known as the hammer. we're talking about tom delay, son may be known for his tango. the former house republican leader is about to go on "dancing with the stars." coming up.
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here's a look at some "hot shots" coming in. in russia, emergency workers sift through the wreckage after
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a police station was destroyed by a suicide bomber. in the philippines, protestors and security guards go head to head as demonstrators rally against high fuel prices. in afghanistan, two boys and their donkeys transport ballot boxes. and in indonesia, tourists celebrate independence day by taking part in sack races. and tom delay was a house republican leader, he was known more for strong-arm tactics than fancy footwork. who would have guessed he would become the newest cast member with "dancing with the stars." cnn's jeanne moos takes a closer look at his most unusual career move. >> reporter: not since conservative commentator tucker carlson good naturedly made a spectacle of himself, has the political establishment licked its lips in so much
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anticipation. >> new stars will take center stage. >> reporter: the former republican house majority leader, also known as "the hammer," no relation to this hammer. the other hammer tweeted the news that he'd be dancing with the stars and set up a website, "dancing with delay." his daughter said he's already lost 12 pounds working out. in anticipation -- >> get out his gong, because he's shooting quail. >> reporter: we bring you dancing with the politicos. ♪ look at him jumping up and down ♪ >> reporter: from karl rove's rap, to the first couple's slow dance, we let the people judge. ♪ for instance, former secretary of state madeiline albright giving macrana lessons.
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>> a brilliant show. >> reporter: or sarah palin on "saturday night live." >> i say an 11. >> she bites her lip while rocking. >> reporter: one of the lowest scores went to a clip of president bush. the question is, can tom delay disprove the republicans can't dance notion? >> what happens at the republican convention is ♪ bad, bad, leroy brown." >> reporter: barack obama's moves were blown away by michelle. >> oh, very nice. >> reporter: for perfect tens. the handover mouth reaction. was reserved for cnn's very own wolf blitzer. >> he reminded me of a bobblehead doll and i like the way they love. >> reporter: roland martin got the highest mark.